Where have all the Pastor’s gone ?

Have you ever noticed that no one in church suffers from mental illness ? Three hundred fifty million people worldwide suffer from depression that is five percent of the population of the world. Yet we never hear about it in church. I have been hospitalized six times in my life for depression in all of those times I have only ever had one pastor visit me one time and I have been an active church member every single one of those times.

Where are the Pastors of the world when the most vulnerable need them the most? Do you know the only department in the hospital that the Chaplains do not visit ? The psychiatric emergency unit. They are discouraged from visiting patients there because the patients might ask them hard questions about God and life and death.

Are you a Pastor reading this?

When was  the last time you visited the Mentally Ill ?

Why haven’t you visited the mentally ill?

STIGMA

One word answer is stigma.

You know your own  answer.

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Did You Smile Today?

It is nearing bedtime in my house; time for relaxation, reflection on the day, and maybe a few thoughts on this modern phenomenon called “selfies.” I can hear many of you groaning already. I was recently told that because I am connected to many people via the internet and because I post pictures of myself that I am a vain person. You can form your own personal opinion from whatever information you may know about me but I will respond with the reason I take pictures of myself and post them for my friends to see.

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder more than twenty years ago. I will require treatment for it for the rest of my life. I have been hospitalized for it in the past and there are no guarantees that I will not be hospitalized for it in the future.My depression has been classified as treatment resistant and if you are familiar with depression at all you know that “treatment resistant” doesn’t even scratch the surface of describing the challenges I face. I do not say any of this to elicit your sympathy in any way but as a means of explaining where I am coming from. My depression has been nearly fatal more than once in my life. I pray to God that it never brings me to that dark of a place again.

Having a mental illness requires living a very intentional life. Everything I do requires planning and preparation. I am determined to experience all that this life has to offer me and to do that I must be careful not to allow negativity into my days. For this reason I do not own a television, this requires me to seek out news of local, national, and world events to stay informed. I don’t know the names of many of the celebrities featured on the newsstand magazines and I am not familiar with the latest and greatest mousetrap being advertised on the screen. I read online newspapers, real magazines such as The Atlantic, The Economist, Readers Digest, and Health. I don’t think my way of living is better than anyone else’s but it is what works for me.

Why did I ask if you smiled today? The reason I asked you that is the reason I take selfies and post them on my facebook page; it is because there are many days when that smile I put on my face for the camera is the only time I smile that day. I am a widow who lives alone, there can be many days when I see no one but if my smile on Facebook means that someone else smiles back at me by clicking like on my picture then I smile in return. If you want to call this vanity I won’t attempt to change your opinion, but if my smile has ever made you smile then I have accomplished what I wished to.

Blessings and Goodnight

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One Day With Depression

This recording from July of 2011 is being posted today in gratitude to friends who have walked today to bring awareness to the problem of Suicide and Mental Illness. If you have ever thought about suicide then you understand how quickly a person can go from holding on to the brink. Please reach out and call someone or ten someones. This video is also posted in memory for friends and family members who have lost loved ones to Suicide. You are always in my prayers.

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Mental Illness Awareness Week 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week

 I must say that I hope for understanding of mental illness.  People who don’t live with the disease and yes it is a disease just call us crazy or just put them away and many other hurtful things are said.  I wish that one day people will educate themselves instead of ignoring us or the disease.  I know first hand my parents don’t understand my mental illnesses and give me a hard time and make me feel bad.  They say to get over it.  I can’t just shut it off.  Dad doesn’t even believe in mental illness.  I suffer alone every day.  I wish more attention would be put out there and people to learn about this disease.

Don and Christine wish to thank an anonymous friend for helping them shed a light on such an important issue such as this ! 

CLICK ON THE POSTER ABOVE TO LEARN ABOUT NAMI's PROGRAMS
CLICK ON THE POSTER ABOVE TO LEARN ABOUT NAMI’s PROGRAMS

 

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Paying it Forward – With a Rock

This guest posting comes to us from Michael Terrell who will be the Full Time Pastor at Canton United Methodist Church as of July 1st.Not only is this an especially poignant reminder of what many of our Veterans have gone through it is the story of what so many of our Veterans are still going through. I felt as though as our Bishop of the Upper New York Annual Conference calls us to Conference,

This guest posting comes to us from Michael Terrell who will be the Full Time Pastor at Canton United Methodist Church as of July 1st.

Not only is this an especially poignant reminder of what many of our Veterans have gone through it is the story of what so many of our Veterans are still going through. I felt as though as our Bishop of the Upper New York Annual Conference calls us to Conference, with a rock in hand and plans to send us home with the rock of another, this is a wonderful story of what a rock can mean.

As the hymn says “On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, all other ground is sinking sand”

PAYING IT FORWARD – WITH A ROCK!

On Monday, Memorial Day, I took a walk to get some last minute goodies at the local gas station. As I was walking, a gentleman drove by me and put his hand out the window as if to say, “Hold on!” The car then proceeded to turn around and as the car approached, not recognizing who it was, I was getting nervous.

A man got out of the car and said deep and loud, “Hey – I need to talk with you, do you know who I am?” Sadly, I did not recognize his face. He then tells me I saved his life three years prior. As he shared with me a few of the details, my mind was refreshed.

It was a busy day for me as I entered my office at the church. Exhausted I sat down at my desk, ready to catch up on my work. The church thrift shop had just closed for the day and I was alone. Within what seemed to be maybe an hour, I heard a loud noise of the outside doors opening and in comes a gentleman who had been crying, screaming, and in a rage. Needless to say, I was taken aback and my mind was racing as to how to handle this surprise guest.

He says, “I need help. Please help me. Please help me. I can’t take no more. Please help me.” I then asked him to sit down, after he had thrown two of my metal chairs and had almost broken my office door off the hinges. His hair was a mess and he looked as though he had not shaved in days. His eyes were glassy and he was in pain.

I asked him to calm down and to begin telling me what was wrong. It was then he pulled out a knife. At first, I think I was shocked I was actually witnessing somebody pulling out a knife in my office, a complete stranger, in this little country town, in my rookie pastor’s office. My next thought was the thought of pushing a button under my desk to call for emergency back-up. Since my desk was not equipped with that, and noticing my phone was quite a ways from me, I knew I had to act as if he did not scare me.

I asked this gentleman, who I will name “Bob” what he needed the knife for. He said he wanted to kill himself. He had no reason to live. I just could not believe this kind of stuff was real, and here it was right in front of me. Bob mentioned that he had just gotten out of the military about 5 months prior, and his wife had left him, due to his anger issues, and that his children wanted nothing to do with him, and all of his friends had deserted him. Bob was desperate and thought the world would be better off without him.

I know that military service is difficult, demanding and dangerous, and that for some, returning to civilian life poses challenges. I also once heard that “a Christian must carry something heavier on his or her own shoulders than chips” and Bob really needed my help. Now was my chance and I needed to do it right.

We just began talking about how he got into the military and what he loved about it, and how he grew up and about some of the things he loved to do. We started talking about family and during this conversation which lasted a few hours; I managed to retrieve the knife from him. I think he realized that him, taking his own life would not make things any better and when I asked him if I could contact a crisis counselor, he replied yes.

After trying my best to find in the phonebook various counselors, I managed to get somebody on the phone who would speak with him, and along with my strong urging I was able to let the person on the phone know it was a life or death situation and not to play games. This seemed to make him feel better, coupled with the fact that I asked him to call me to let me know how he made out and I told him I wanted him to follow up with me on his progress.

I also wanted to give him a stone I received at a Walk to Emmaus event. This was a stone I kept in my pocket for years. I wanted him to have this stone and told him that at the times when I am in a desperate situation, I need a reminder that there is something that holds me together – my trust and God and my faith – a faith that is solid as a rock, and that I have built my own life on the rock of Christ, and that this same rock can help him too, regardless if he believes or not (I think he did, because after all, he came into the church!). He was touched by this gesture and took the stone and promised he would call me. He then thanked me for my time, shook my hand, promised he would be in touch with me, and left in a pick-up truck.

Bob left me with a knife in my hand, rock-less and in some odd way, joyful. I think he was actually going to follow through with what he promised me.

After this incident, I remember being so emotionally drained, I went home and spent some time with my wife and we talked. I was really scared at first and thought for sure my life was going to end. I thought about my daughter living without her dad, my wife without her husband, and my mom without a son. My life was flying before me in the moment I saw that knife.

Bob looked great. He gave me a big hug and said “thank you” for all I did for him. He said I gave him a new life. I told him he made the first step by admitting he needed help and sought it. Now three years later, he has his life back together and was grateful. He was headed to a support group meeting as we spoke.

He obviously had heard that I am due to leave this church to serve as pastor for the Canton United Methodist Church in Canton, NY. He said he was sorry to see me go, and that he wanted me to have something. He proceeded to pull out of his pocket a stone – the very, shiny orange stone I gave him three years ago. He told me he wanted me to have it, so when things are scary, I can remember that my faith is solid as this rock. He placed it in my hand and said, “thanks again, I have to get going to my meeting” and he drove off in his car.

I was speechless. I could not believe what had just transpired. Of course, I went to the store, and then came home to share with my wife what happened.

I thank God every day for the little things I am blessed with. I know that any minute everything I have can be taken away from me. In every situation, I try to put myself in another person’s shoes. Life is tough. We need to stand on that solid rock of Christ. If nobody knows what that rock of faith is about, I need to show it to them, and like what Jesus did for me and pay it forward.

Alleluia!

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Memories of RFK

We often ask ourselves and each other why is it important for us to participate in the CROP Walk or the Gay Pride Parade? What can we, as individuals, accomplish when we write letters to the Congress or boycott a product made by a polluting manufacturer? Is the presence of the Neighbors for Peace at the Delmar four corners meaningful? For that matter, what can such a small congregation do to make a positive difference in our world?

I watched a program on PBS about Robert Kennedy’s visit to South Africa in the time of apartheid. This quote reminded me why we stand to be counted.

“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Robert F. Kennedy, The Day of Affirmation Speech, 6/6/1966 South Africa

May God give us the strength, resolve, and belief in His justice to continue to walk the road less travelled.

Cheryl Lasher

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